Just a reminder…

…you know that beloved Scripture passage about how “If a man will not work, he shall not eat”?  The one that undergirds all those Randian demands to cut off the poor at the knees if they are unemployed?

Yeah.  See, it turns out Paul was not drafting a bill on welfare reform for Congress.  He was addressing Christian–and Christians alone–under his care as a pastor.  In other words, that beloved saying is not intended to free us from the obligation for charity.

So is there anything else in the gospel about charity n’ stuff?

Funnily enough, there is: “Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your  goods do not ask them again.”

It’s one of those reckless things Jesus says that, if Francis said it today in an interview, he would be screamed down as a garroulous old fool who has probably been hanging around with Marxists, Masons, and Jewish liberals and who is giving the MSM a totally false impression.

Recently somebody on Facebook was lamenting having to endure a Pope who keeps saying things that Conservatives keep having to “explain and contextualize.”  He apparently missed the past 2000 years since there has never been a time, starting with Jesus, when the faith was not chockablock with remarks that need to be explained and contextualized.  What’s especially funny though are the remarks that *only* need to be explained and contextualized to mean nothing by people who boast about their superior fidelity to everyone else while striving to ignore the plain meaning of what is actually being said.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Mr. Shea writes: Funnily enough, there is: “Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.”
    I respond: Ah, Mr. Shea you’re obviously quoting the actual Bible. As 400 years of ye olde Protestant Work Ethic has taught us, what the Gospel actually meant to say was: “Give to every one who begs from you (provided that you deem him worthy of it and the poor fellow offers to mow your lawn).”

  • Steve

    Mark, as always you are brimming with charity.

    The conservatives who are tired of having to explain “what the Pope meant” aren’t objecting to his prophetic statements about the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant, and the addict. Rather, it is explaining how “atheists are redeemed” doesn’t mean “all atheists go to heaven”. And “who am I to judge” doesn’t mean “sure, the homosexual lifestyle is ok”. And “the issue is to follow your conscience” doesn’t mean “doing what you feel like is an alternative to the Gospel”. And finally, “We can’t obsess over small issues” doesn’t mean, “Cease your pro-life work, let the good times roll”.

    Now, I realize Pope Francis doesn’t intend these confusions. And when you understand him properly he is speaking the truth. However, the ambiguity he leaves in these sort of “off the cuff” statements has the immediate affect of confusing the faithful and gladdening the hearts of the Church’s enemies. I appreciate his comments regarding the poor and marginalized. However, when it comes to these “hot button issues”, I wish he’d express himself with BOTH doctrinal clarity AND pastoral sensitivity. His more extroverted approach needs to be coupled with clarity – and a few clarifying sentences amidst these off-the-cuff remarks could go a long way.

    And, Mark, if you’re looking to accuse people for acting religiously superior, I’d suggest to go to your restroom, look in the mirror, and remove the plank from your eye.

    • HornOrSilk

      So, are they also tired of explaining Jesus’ words, which are complex and difficult and easily misunderstood (which Jesus himself affirmed)? I mean, Jesus in his discussion of the Last Judgment talks about the possible damnation of those who thought they followed Jesus and kept proclaiming him, while saving those who thought they rejected him but in reality, affirmed him. I mean, if it weren’t in the Bible, and the parable given, I’m sure many “conservatives” would condemn it as heresy.

      • Steve

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at. The complaint Conservatives have with the Pope is that he is too ambiguous on matters of public controversy when he addresses them. I’ve not seen anyone complaining about the Pope’s comments on plight of the poor.

        • HornOrSilk

          And Jesus was “ambiguous” on matters of public controversy when he addressed them. That’s what got many of the Pharisees upset. He didn’t follow the legalistic party line. Again, his discussion of the Last Judgment is a case in point. His discussion of salvation can be misread very easily along the lines people are complaining about now. So who will be the first to say, “I wish Jesus just wouldn’t speak”?

          • Steve

            So you’re saying that one shouldn’t complain that the Pope is being too ambiguous on matters of public moral controversy, because being ambiguous and confusing makes one more Christlike? I think… we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

            In fact, I’m not sure if I’d grant that Christ was even ambiguous in His teaching. “Love your enemies” is difficult, but not ambiguous. “That which you do to the least of these, you do to me” isn’t unclear. “My flesh is true food, my blood is true drink” is perfectly clear (for Catholics). Even “nor do I condemn you, go and sin no more” isn’t ambiguous because it affirms the presence of God’s mercy and the reality of the sin of adultery.

            So I’m not completely sure where you’re driving at, but I don’t think thinly veiled comparisons between conservatives and Pharisees is going to get you there. Them folks just want Pope Francis to more clearly articulate the moral teachings of the Church when commenting upon them. Pharisaical that is not.

            • Marthe Lépine

              What I get here is that some people do not like to have to think by themselves, they want everything spelled out just so. And Catholics are supposed to already know about the basic moral issues, there is no need to keep preaching to the converts about abortion, contraception and gay marriage. And since the Pope is the principal representative of the head of the Church, Jesus, there is no reason to object that he would preach principally to Catholics, not about the obvious things, but about many other things such as a preferential option for the poor, just war doctrine and other issues where many Catholics always still seem to claim “prudential judgement” in order to ignore some Church teaching that is not to their political liking.

              • Steve

                If he chose to never address the issues of abortion, contraception, and homosexuality – that’s be one thing. One might ask why he would be avoiding those issues, but that’s still OK. However, when he does address them, he should be very clear because the whole world is listening.

                • Art

                  Steve thank you for showing clarity in this discussion. I think the point is people are pitting pastoral care against doctrine. It is an extremely unhealthy perspective. The world needs love, but it also needs truth. The problem is people reject truth and only want love, because after all if your foundation is against truth…. you merely want your ear tickled. I mean when you were accused of being like the pharisees I could not help but shake my head and realize people truly do not get it. It is a both/and not an either/or.

                  • HornOrSilk

                    Yeah, Art. The Pharisees couldn’t understand why Jesus didn’t accept their clear “truth” either.

                    • Art

                      Again it is a both/and not an either/or. I love the pope’s message but Steve is right people are walking into RCIA programs at this very moment because of a false perception of who the Church teaches because of media distortion.

                      Depending on your parish’s RCIA director it could be very interesting conversations to listen to.

                      BTW are you suggesting Church teaching is to harsh and needs to be changed?

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Again, Steve and others are complaining that the Pope’s message is unclear, vague, etc., when it is not. Their argument is that media can twist what he says therefore it’s unclear. Bad argument, because anything can be twisted out of context. Even silence can be twisted. Who said anything about either/or? The real thing is that so-called conservatives are upset at what Francis is saying, trying to find a way to squeeze their narrow views out of it, and then say Francis is just being vague. Not so.

                      And even if he were vague, as pointed out, that isn’t always a bad thing. As I pointed out, Jesus could be quite often.

                      Yet, we all know the real issue here: it’s the Pope is saying things which challenges so-called conservatives and their ideologies. I’m seeing a lot of temper tantrums going on. So called conservatives THOUGHT their ideologies were one and the same with Church teaching. The thing is, the Church’s teaching is quite broad, and seeks to allow diversity of opinions, which so-called conservatives despise.

                    • Art

                      It appeared to me your implications are that Church teaching “truth” is similar to the pharisees.

                      I disagree with you about the real issue. It is not that the pope is challenging conservatives it is that people are reading the message by the pope through the media and making false correlations. This is a severe dis-service to truth. Not fault of the pope. There is a time to be pastoral and I think because we live in a world that is extremely self centered culture “ME” that when the pope says something they want it to fit their ideologies and not necessarily truth. Truth and love go hand in hand. Not sure it is a fair accusation to consider those who are conservative like the pharisees when indeed most that I know cherish both. On the other hand those receiving the message from the media about the pope don’t care about truth insofar as they get to select what is true to them. (RELATIVISM)

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Where, because I am critical of the attacks on the Pope? What is Pharisee is those who think their way of ideology is clear and must be what is presented, nothing else. They are the ones complaining about the Pope being not so clear because the Pope doesn’t follow their ideologies and yet they are trying to find a way to make the Pope fit their ideology. They also think there is only one way to be Catholic, which is not true. The real issue is they got away with their false presentation of Catholicism and the Pope has pulled the rug from under them.

                    • Art

                      When you speak of ideology what are you speaking of? This is very important for me to understand where you are coming from.

                    • Andy

                      I read the interview and saw what he is saying clearly – he never said not to address the sin – he said meet the person, heal the wounds then look at and instruct concerning the underlying cause. The constant drumbeat about pelvic issues has numbed the listeners – the church is so much more than that. The constant drumbeat with the underlying rhythms have caused the message to be off-key and discordant. The behaviors have pushed away those who most need to care and to be listened to and to listen.
                      What Francis has done is say from FP Dunne – we need to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. It seems that the comfortable don’ want to be afflicted and don’t want to comfort the afflicted.
                      His words have caused me no end of much needed soul searching.

                    • Art

                      I would also add that the afflicted have bought hook line and sinker about what the media has falsely claimed what the pope has stated, all the while feeling comforted.

                      I am seeing people say, take that Catholics!!! Your pope agrees with me!!!

                      Really?

                      We cannot spread the gospel with truth and then not show a loving care for the sinner. At the same time, we cannot spread the gospel with love and then not show the truth of what God expects out of us. It has and must be both!

                      Jesus didn’t tell the adulteress, “The pharisees were wrong it is actually OK to commit mortal sin, your good.”

                      She had a *REAL* conversion and understood the mercy and was told to sin no more. She experienced love and truth.

                    • Andy

                      I think that the afflicted and the comfortable have bought hook, line and sinker what the media said the pope said. That is I think is the problem.
                      I am not suggesting that we do not or should not instruct – my belief is that when I understand where a person is coming from I have a better chance of creating a message that she or he will understand. It is an order of presentation issue – not what to present. I think that is what the pope is saying.

                    • Art

                      Also when you say there is *not* only one way to be Catholic what do you mean by that?

                      Is it ok to rip pages out of the CCC and say you are a faithful Catholic?

                      Or is it something different?

            • HornOrSilk

              I am saying if you take your principle to its end, it would criticize the Bible and Jesus himself. The fact is, the Pope wasn’t vague. No matter what he says, the press can and will try to make of it as they will. The solution is not to worry about the press, but to preach as he will. And he is doing it. And doing it well. I think the real concern is you don’t like the message, it challenges you, and you are trying to find an excuse and scapegoat.

              “This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them” John 10:6.

              “And when he was alone, those who were about him with the twelve asked him concerning the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven.” (Mark 4:10-12)

              “Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” (Matthew 13:10-11)

              Jesus himself made it clear he wasn’t going to be clear to everyone.

              • Steve

                The ambiguity of the parables was a real phenomenon. However, Jesus followed up on many of them by explaining them more clearly. For those which he didn’t the hearers didn’t know what to make of it at all.

                This is different from what Pope Francis has done. He hasn’t tried to teach with parables. The confusion wrought by his imprecision is because on several occasions it sounded like he was being very clear in stating something untrue. Such as when he said, “Atheists are redeemed.” That’s true… when one understands the difference between redemption and salvation. Which almost no one does. So most people came away thinking the Pope said, “All atheists go to heaven.”

                So I’d much prefer he render his teaching in murky parables. Then in explaining them I could take a person from no conclusion to a correct conclusion. Instead, I have to deal with people who think the Pope is changing Church teaching, and then think I’m being stodgy for saying, “No he isn’t.” That’s frustrating, and I wish Pope Francis would take more efforts to guarding against it.

                Lastly, you’re taking this in precisely the wrong direction. I don’t wish that Francis had never said anything. Rather, I wish he’d spoken more – saying something like, “Don’t take this to mean I want pro-life people to stop educating the public.” At this point I think I’ve said all I can to you. If you sincerely believe that misleading statements makes one more Christlike, that’s your choice. But for me, I think the Pope’s apostolic ministry is better served by clearly and thoroughly explaining the teaching of the Church.

                • HornOrSilk

                  He didn’t explain them clearly to the populace: Jesus said it is not to them, but the close inner circle, who get those explanations. Jesus even said the interpretation is being hid from many! So again, vague teaching, which many went all over the place interpreting. If it is a problem to do that, then you just have a problem with Jesus.

                  Pope Francis is actually quite precise. The problem is not him and his words, but people like you and the media who want to warp them, you, apparently to have something to whine about. Seriously, no matter who and what it is, the media easily warps what was said — this was done with Benedict all the time (for example, the complete misunderstanding of his words on Islam at Regensburg, the twisting of it by many on the net as a thing of hate against Islam, despite Benedict’s later statement that was not his intent nor meaning!).

                  What Pope Francis said is clear. The whining of Pharisees who want particular formula and ways of presenting things to limit what the Church doesn’t limit will be their own downfall.

                  And what the Pope said on atheists is fine. Really. He was not vague. He didn’t make anything up. He is following basic Catholic teachings, conciliar teachings. Sure the media will make of it as they will, but again, if you want to argue people can take his words out of context and corrupt them, again, it doesn’t matter how precise he is, how detailed and thorough he is, the media will find the slogan and go with it. Just look at the Bible and how it used throughout the centuries.

                  • Chesire11

                    I have to admit that I’m completely nonplussed by the claim that anything Francis has said has been vague or confusing Every word out of his mouth has been rock solid orthodox.

                • chezami

                  Baloney. Exactly what Jesus did *not* do is explain his parables to those outside the inner circle of disciples. For heaven’s sake, the man said “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” and those words were used against him at his trial. Your whole campaign to gripe about Francis and his need to make everything acceptable to your subculture is stone blind to the fact that what he says and means *is not acceptable to your subculture*.

                  • Steve

                    If I recall, Jesus explained the meaning of the parables to his Apolstes so that they could later explain them more clearly… right?
                    I’ve named some of the examples I think are worthy of complaint and their effects. You needn’t conjecture about whatever subculture you think I belong to. If it must be named, it would be, “People who want the public to understand the beauty of what is said in the Catechism.”

                  • Art

                    Church teaching fits what subculture? Didn’t realize that Church teaching could be such a bad thing to express and understand. Do not pit pastoral against doctrinal.

                    I also do not think Steve is griping about pope Francis, but is griping about those who want to take a blanket statement and saying, “See pope Francis opposes you!”

                    I heard a parish priest within our dioceses show how much he loved Pope Francis and he preferred him over B16….

                    Why is that?

          • johnnyc

            And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you (compassion); go, and do not sin again” (conversion).

            Seems pretty clear to me. Jesus spoke of sin, the devil and hell out of love. That too is a pastoral approach. The Church’s mission still includes the saving of souls, no? Compassion for this life. Conversion for the next. Proclaim the whole Gospel. Not the liberal one or the conservative one. The whole Truth.

            • HornOrSilk

              I can find “really clear” words of Pope Francis as well. So I don’t get the point of your comment?

    • Marthe Lépine

      Hey! Don’t you sound rather thin-skinned? Or… if the shoe fits… and maybe the full truth hurts? I cannot find anything lacking charity in Mark’s post. He seems to have actually seen that commentary on Facebook that he is commenting about, he did not make it up. There is nothing wrong with saying the truth, is’nt it? If somebody is clearly wrong, why should Mark refrain from pointing it out? Besides he did not give any name, just mentioned a comment among others that did not seem right to him. It is his blog, he is perfectly entitled. And I have noticed as well as he did that a lot of those negative comments about Pope Francis do appear to come from conservatives, specially if you compare them with other comments made under some other of Mark’s posts over the months, and bearing the same names…

      And if I am not mistaken, admonishing the sinners is a spiritual work of mercy. How can one admonish sinners who are posting less-than-Christian comments without criticizing what they did say in their comments?
      Maybe, to solve the problem of misinterpretation of what he says, Pope Francis could do just as Jesus often did, and say something to the effect that “Whoever has ears to hear or eyes to see (read) , let them hear and see”.

      • Steve

        I’ve not seen any conservatives complaining about having to explain and contextualize the Pope’s comments in regards to the poor. What I have seen is plenty of people complaining that in his interviews he hasn’t been clear enough when addressing matters of controversy. I have little doubt that the person Mark saw was addressing the latter issue, not the former.

        • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

          “Explain and contextualize” Francis’s comments about the poor? No. “Explain and contextualize” Benedict’s comments about the poor? All the time.

    • chezami

      I’m not superior to anybody. I’m a sinful slob. I’m just sick to death of bullshit like this: http://spectator.org/archives/2013/09/25/when-paul-corrected-peter/print from conservatives who constantly demand the expulsion of other for the lack of fidelity while they labor to “correct” the Holy Father and the Church when the gospel is spoken in a way that does not fit their private dogmas.

      • Steve

        I agree with their observation that we don’t have to “ooh and ahh” over every syllable from the mouth of a Pope. However, this article lacks any actual syllables directly quoted from the Pope with which they disagree. The post seems to be, “Booooo Jesuits!”

    • Chesire11

      I think you’re missing something in all of this. Until Pope Francis started making these “ambiguous” comments, when was the last time a non-Catholic, or a lapsed Catholic was open to listen to what conservative Catholics had to say about anything other than scandals?

      Rather than complaining about having to run around explaining what his statements mean, recognize and appreciate the fact that you, you know, have an opportunity to run around and explain to people what the Catholic faith means, and that the people are interested in listening to you because for once they perceive the merciful nature of the Church, and are receptive, rather than defensive toward us.

      He is starting conversations, and when you have little things like Truth, and Love on your side, that is a very, VERY good thing indeed!

      • Steve

        Even now that Pope Francis has said these things, are people any more willing to listen to the Church’s position on homosexuality? On abortion? On marriage? On the need for Christian conversion?

        Whereas before they’d say, “Stop saying abortion is murder. You’re mean!” Now they can say, “Don’t you know that the Pope wants you to stop talking about abortion? Who are you to judge? All I have to do is follow my conscience!”

        And many of the people who have newfound excitement about the Church, have it because they’re listening to the mass-media interpretations of these interviews and believe doctrinal change is just around the bend. They’re not seeing the Church as becoming more merciful, but more lax.

        People want to listen to Francis because he is extroverted, likable, and humble. There are those who think he’s using a tactic of confusion to get people talking. Myself, I wish he’d just use his popularity to more clearly express the wholeness of Catholic teaching on these matters.

        • Chesire11

          Speaking from personal experience as one who lives in a very liberal corner of the country, and who interacts with and discusses these very issues on a very regular basis with actual liberals (rather than the bogeyman hypothetical liberal that fevers the conservative imagination), I can answer with an emphatic, “yes!”

          Have they spontaneously “seen the light,” overturned a lifetime of convictions rooted in the hyper-materialistic culture of consumerism in which we have imprisoned ourselves? No, but they are actually entertaining the possibility of a better way, and it will take time to bring them along on the journey. They are mulling over what he has said. Nine out of ten of them will end up rejecting it all, and sinking back into the muck, but ten out of ten of them used to deny the fact of the muck itself!

          In any case, there is no “tactic of confusion” involved in anything of what Francis has said. Everything has been remarkably clear and accessible. The amount of confusion doesn’t follow from a lack of clarity, but from the fact that many people hitherto unfamiliar with the context of the Catholic faith are, for the first time, actually reading what a pope has to say about these things.

          As brilliant a theologian as was our pope-emeritus, and as remarkable a philosopher as was Blessed John Paul II, do you really imagine that, given the same popular attention, their writings would be any less misunderstood than Francis’ comments? Do Dominus Iesus, Mulieris Dignitatem, and the Regensberg Address ring a bell?

          • Steve

            I’m not saying this is the first time a Pope has ever been misunderstood. What I’ve done is give examples of where Pope Francis said things that gave people the wrong impression. And I simply wish he’d display more care, when addressing issues the public is so feverishly interested in, to explain the fullness of Catholic teaching.

            Much of the confusion is the result of journalistic malpractice. However, some of these things – upon reading them myself- have left me scratching my head. Such as the “atheists are redeemed” comment and the “the issue is to follow your conscience”. The newest interview had me asking, “Did he just compare talking about the unborn to fussing about high cholesterol?” In the end, my confusions were resolved, but it would have been easier if he’d been more thorough and clear.

            I’ve not heard anyone say, “Wow, I never realized the Church was so full of mercy and depth.” Rather, I’ve seen a lot of, “Finally, the Church is changing”. These people will feel like the victims of a bait-and-switch when they find out the Pope isn’t changing doctrine. And on the other side, I’ve seen Evangelicals (who start from a distrust in the papacy) lose interest in the Church due to all this.

            • Art

              Perfectly stated!

            • Chesire11

              Anything true said by any pope will be misrepresented, either as denying the sinner, or denying the sin. Lies are simply the way the Enemy opposes God who is Truth. In order to quell the storms of heterodoxy and poor catechesis following the Second Vatican Council, the Church required correction and guidance, and so the Holy Spirit raised up Blessed John Paul II, and Benedict XVI who restored a sense of Catholic identity and direction to the Church. Unfortunately, that focus on correction was exploited by the Enemy to present an image of a stern and scolding Church.

              Now, because of the excellent Magisterial work done by his predecessors, the Holy Spirit has raised up Francis to pursue a more pastorally focused pontificate to show not only the merciful face of the Church, but also to explain to the world what authentic mercy is, and what it isn’t. The popular culture will continue to construe mercy as indifference to sin, but if you read the interview, Francis provides a clear corrective to that notion. He presents mercy as meeting the sinner where he is, and accompanying him on a journey out of sin and toward grace.

              He is not being vague, nor is he confusing, at all. He is speaking truth, which we misunderstand because WE are vague and confused. Do we scratch our heads at times, rather than nodding them at things he says? Yes, because he is teaching us, the faithful as well as the unchurched, and neither flattering our vanity, or ignoring our need for our own ongoing conversion. You, a well catechized Catholic scratched your head about his statement that even atheists are redeemed – but that prompted you to find out what that actually means, and so came to a better understanding – your faith became less “vague” and “confused” as a result.

              The fact that there hasn’t been a tsunami of reformed homosexuals offering Hosannas, and confessing the error of their ways six months into his pontificate and a month and a half after WYD does not begin to suggest that the seeds he is sowing are barren. This is a process, and just as it took more than four decades, and two pontificates to order the chaos of the post-conciliar years, it will take time for this work to bear its fruit, and it will bear it according to God’s plan, not our own, but what is time to God?

              Trust in the Holy Spirit. He knows what He is doing. We only ever go astray when we doubt His path, and instead seek our own ways.

              • Steve

                Look, the Pope doesn’t speak Scripture. The guy is perfectly capable of phrasing things poorly. You do realize this, right? That infallibility doesn’t mean everything he says is perfect?

                To say, “The Pope is perfectly clear… after you look up the finer points of Catholic terminology regarding justification” doesn’t quite work. I took the time to clear up my misconception, but only because I had the presence mind to say, “That… doesn’t sound right.” Most other people just walk away with their wrong impression. And that’s a problem that can be avoided.

                So when he said, “Atheists are redeemed” it would help if he’d also said, “But that doesn’t mean atheists don’t need to accept that gift of redemption” so that the headlines wouldn’t read, “Francis says all atheists go to Heaven”.

                I’m afraid I’ve said all I can say to you. If you want to believe the Pope is impeccable, that’s your personal piety. Although it sounds like you’re attributing charisms to the man which the Church doesn’t say he has. Myself, as I said up top, I want him to work harder at BOTH pastoral sensitivity AND doctrinal clarity. We needn’t pit the two against each other.

                • chezami

                  Incredibly, failure to meet your demand that he conform to your standards of ideological rigor and purity does not constitute teaching error or even misspeaking.

                  • AnsonEddy

                    Easy, Mark. Take a deep breath. Get some perspective. Steve isn’t the guy who wrote the American Spectator article. From what I can gather he is saying: “You know, the pope sure could use a little message discipline.” On the other hand you’ve got a person in this thread who earlier in the year wanted a rodeo clown in Missouri put on trial for donning an Obama mask crowing that the Pope is finally calling out those conservatives for the modern day Pharisees they are and “pulling the rug out from under them”. And Steve is the one you’re admonishing. Really?

                • Chesire11

                  I never said that everything that falls from the lips of our Holy Father is a pearl of wisdom, nor that he is incapable of blundering. What I am saying is that his statements thus far have been crystal clear statements of orthodox doctrine that are challenging the faithful and the unchurched alike to look at the Church’s teachings and claims with fresh eyes. In that, I don’t see a garrulous old man, but the Holy Spirit moving in him.

                  It’s not his fault if people are too lazy to read the full text of what he says, and only read the few lines that are pulled out for them by the MSM.

  • Chesire11

    “Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.”

    That’s okay, we can just exercise our “prudential judgment” to determine that giving to beggars only fosters a culture of dependence, and we are REALLY being charitable when we keep all of our stuff to ourselves, so we can live as shining examples of what life is like when stuff has you…er…when you have stuff! What’s best is that we can do it all in absolute perfect fidelity to Catholic social doctrine.

    Jesus will understand.

  • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

    This is something of a confused pot shot that I’m having a bit of trouble unwinding. For instance, the man who is unemployed is not necessarily someone who is unwilling to work. In fact, the conventional definition of unemployment excludes those from the definition of the labor force and so anybody who is unwilling to work is never unemployed in the sense that they just don’t show up in the unemployment statistics.

    So given this definitional error in what is meant by unemployment, is there anything that is left that is salvageable? Is it the embedded assumption that randians are christian? Rand herself absolutely was not, calling christianity a contradiction that cannot be made to work:
    http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/texts/jesus.html

    Certainly charity is a christian obligation. The question is whether a particular behavior that claims to be an expression of charity is actually helpful. Clearly there are horrific consequences attached to our present approach that lead to a massive collection of painful lives bereft of human dignity and hope. Cutting that off at the knees is not a stand against charity but a fight against a pernicious imposter that pretends to charity while wrecking the lives of the poor. The destruction of the inner city family, the creation of poverty traps, the elimination of social mobility, these are not things that any decent christian can be proud of but it is in large respect what we’ve actually accomplished.

    Yes, yes, somebody on facebook said something foolish:
    http://xkcd.com/386/

    And the point about Francis is the best part of this post, the most justifiable. No ifs, ands, or buts. I wish you wouldn’t have added the other stuff to what is a pretty good point. Standing alone, it would have made a better post.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      The question is whether a particular behavior that claims to be an expression of charity is actually helpful. Clearly there are horrific consequences attached to our present approach that lead to a massive collection of painful lives bereft of human dignity and hope.

      This may, perhaps, be true. Nevertheless, the question is not whether a course of action has negative consequences but rather whether it is a necessary and good thing to do. It may make a man sick to eat moldy bread, but if that man is starving, and moldy bread is the only thing available to him, he may have to just eat the bread and deal with the consequences of being sick. It’s better than starving to death.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

        You are correct, but examining it from the perspective of the starving man, which is different than the perspective that both Mark and I are applying which is the perspective of the legislator trying to fashion a legal regime to help the starving man.

        The poor do what they must to survive and it is a hallmark of the modern, western poor that so many of them behave in ways that trap them in poverty. But that’s not savage capitalism. It’s maladaptive psychology, a different issue.

        What system is most likely to get poor people past their maladaptive habits so that they actually rise up to the dignified life we all want for them? What does that look like?

  • Elaine S.

    The “if a man does not work neither shall he eat” quote, as I understand it, was addressed to a specific group of Christians in a specific situation. At the time St. Paul wrote it, there was a lot of speculation among Christians that the Second Coming was imminent, and some of them quit their jobs, believing the world was about to come to an end. However, as time went on and Christ didn’t come back as they expected, some of these people ended up with way too much time on their hands, which they spent spreading rumors and gossip and mooching off of others. St. Paul is simply telling the Corinthian Christian community not to put up with or “enable” that kind of nonsense, and emphasizing that the way to prepare for the Second Coming is NOT to sit around idly waiting for it to happen, but to carry out the duties of a faithful servant of God. Obviously, this is an entirely different situation from that of people who are unemployed through no fault of their own.

  • Hieronymus Illinensis

    Yes, the gospel does demand that we give to everyone who begs of us, and to give up as lost all that is taken from us. If a panhandler hits me up, I have two choices: pony up or go to Hell.

    What I don’t see anywhere in the gospel is any indication that it counts at all, Matthew 25-wise, what government does. If there is a scrap of papyrus somewhere that says, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry, and you handed over to Caesar what you had to in order to avoid fines and imprisonment,” no translator has ever made use of it. No, I will be judged on what I did with the time, talents, and treasure that were mine to give, and may God have mercy on my soul.

  • kirtking

    If your piece is to suggest government funding for a variety of entitlements has anything to do with a Biblical obligation of charity, you too reckless….in the sense that the Bible and Jesus does not call for taking money from the rich by force and threat of imprisonment.

    • HornOrSilk

      Well, the Bible does speak of government sponsored work for the poor, and the prophets often condemned rulers who did not focus on the poor, the widow, the helpless and instead sought to hob-nob with the rich and powerful, taking from the poor to give to the rich. Funny how so many ignore those passages in Scripture. And the fact that people continue to say, “Scripture doesn’t call it charity when government aid is given to the poor,” shows they ignore what Scripture and Catholic teaching does call for: justice. Justice for the poor, the preferential option for the poor. I always love this turn to “bible alone” while ignoring the prophets and scripture on justice (which did call for wealth to be collected and distributed, btw).

      • kirtking

        No, raising the issue of social justice when the topic is charity just shows the speaker can’t stay on topic.

        There is very little relationship between the treatment of the people by the rulers of the Old Testament and that of today’s American leadership.

        • HornOrSilk

          No, it is a tactic in some US circles to say it’s all about charity. That’s the problem. They think we should force people to be poor, not have the government fulfill its purpose or try to, so they can show “charity.” That’s not charity, that’s self-serving self-glorification under the guise of charity. As Pope Benedict said before, even if a society is perfectly just and there is no poverty, we would find ourselves at the beginning of charity.

          And it’s interesting, you say the Bible says nothing about governments giving to the poor. When it is shown to do, you give the secularist (capitalist) response. Well done! I couldn’t have made a better caricature!

  • Illinidiva

    The only reason why Francis is confusing to so many conservative Catholics is because they keep trying to twist him to fit their worldview rather than accepting what he says at face value. I’d really just like them to admit that the Pope is a moderate/ liberal and they don’t agree with his views. It is much less tiresome than having to hear about how confusing Pope Francis’ words are when he is very blunt about this.
    And the fact that Francis is to the left of both JPII and Benedict has been evident since March 13th. He was the candidate that Martini put up against Benedict in 2005. I don’t think that this would have happened if the Cardinal Bergoglio was the Spanish speaking version of Benedict.


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